The chief political commentator of the Independent has spoken about the move to digital-only publishing saying print journalism “wasn’t really an important part of what I did”.
John Rentoul has been a journalist with the Independent titles for over 20 years, working as a leader writer on the Independent as well as a commentator for the Independent on Sunday.
Rentoul is now chief political commentator for the Independent's website and tablet edition, following the closure of the Independent and Independent on Sunday printed issues last month.
Rentoul said: “I have very much relished going digital-only because I relate to my readers online. The fact that some of my words used to appear in print was very nice for my parents but wasn’t really an important of what I did. Now the opportunities for the online Independent I think are truly exciting.”
Rentoul was speaking on a panel at Advertising Week Europe, along with other senior journalists and executives at the Independent.
Christian Broughton, digital editor of The Independent, said closing the printed titles was a “no-brainer”.
He said: “Ninety-nine percent of our growing audience was already online. It was a no-brainer.”
Broughton rubbished suggestions that the pillars of the Independent brand, such as its reputation for independence and producing journalism with an international viewpoint ,would not work well online and that online traffic would be driven by listicles and other click-bait style journalism.
He said: “When I looked through recently the standout articles of last year, it was full of articles such as the 10-minute video interview with Nicolas Henin, who was the French journalist held captive by Isis. It was articles about Aylan Kurdi. We were the first major publisher to publish those images without pixelating them because we wanted the full horror to be seen.
“You see time and time again that those timeless principles of the Independent really connect with people online in a more emphatic way than they did in print.”